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Increase the Value of California Homes for Sale by Preparing in Advance

Increasing the value of homes for sale can increase the asking price. Though realtors suggest improvements that can be made to increase home values, there are many things that can be done by owners in advance of listing their California homes for sale.

Many owners of homes for sale make the mistake of doing costly but unnecessary upgrades, making the wrong improvements, or trying to do too much. Costly upgrade costs are seldom recouped, and many types of improvements add no additional value to the homes.

Trying to do too many improvements is the biggest mistake made by owners of homes for sale. The objective is to do a few strategic and important projects really well with quality materials and workmanship. Doing many projects using mediocre materials, nonprofessional labor, and/or doing them only halfway can, in the end, decrease the value of the homes for sale.

Let’s look at some improvements that will add value to homes for sale:

• Yards
o Many owners think first of their back yard, since they have spent so many hours there compared to the front. The front yard, however, takes precedence over the back for homes for sale — if sellers cannot get potential buyers through the front doors, then the back yards do not matter!
o Overall, patios add the most value to homes for sale; irrigation and then landscaping follow as value-added improvements.
o Many owners overplant, assuming elaborate landscaping will bring a higher selling price. Chaotic landscapes, however, do not impact potential buyers as much as lots of attractive lawn space. The new owners will add more landscaping if that is what they prefer; so, sellers should keep such planting to one area versus many.
o A little lighting goes a long way, so owners should use it sparingly and spend their money for other improvements.
o If pavements are added or replaced, owners should focus on areas where people gather or frequently walk and not over do the paving for walkways and pool areas.

• Buildings — Home, Garages and Any Additional Buildings
o Cosmetic improvements add the most value. Painting and replacing carpet, however, give the best payback. Fixtures are next for increasing the value for homes for sale.
o This is the time to do any maintenance that has been postponed — whether it can be seen or not and especially any structural damage. Here are items that need to be checked for needed maintenance, repair or replacement:
• Items that generally need replacing or repaired after ten years of use are dishwashers, disposals, washer/dryers, and built in microwaves. Also look at fiberglass tubs and showers, laminate countertops, water heaters, carpeting, wooden decks, and asphalt driveways.
• Items that usually need replacing or repaired between 15 and 20 years are central air conditioning, all types of heating units, ranges, ovens, kitchen cabinets, and all types of fixtures, including water faucets and lighting.
• Items to look at that are 20 or more years old are sinks, granite countertops, and concrete, stone or brick walls and patios.
o As to siding on the homes for sale, stucco or wood siding give the most value. Brick gives absolutely no value, and vinyl siding actually takes away from the asking price.
o The features that add the most value to homes for sale are an extra full bathroom, half baths, fireplaces (two are better than one), and a garage for two or more vehicles.
o The next added-value features for homes for sale are double oven, den or study, kitchen island, pantry, utility room, extra bedroom, cathedral ceilings, skylights, decks and an elevator.

Before deciding on any improvement projects, owners should do a buyer evaluation, beginning by standing on the street in front of their homes for sale. Using a notepad, they will write down their first impressions of the lawn and buildings. They must be objective, as if they are looking at their homes for the first time as potential buyers. They should walk through their entire property, making notes of their impressions. If owners have a difficult time separating themselves from the memories that are tied to the homes for sale, then they should ask a friend do this for them. They can even contact a realtor and ask him/her to evaluate the property for value-added improvements, with the promise or signed contract of listing the homes for sale with the realtor later.

The time to evaluate homes for sale is at the first decision to sell them, giving time to make improvements that may substantially increase your selling price.

About the Author: John Harris is an expert researcher and writer on real estate topics such as economics, credit improvement tips, home selling advice and home buying preparations. For more on San Diego Homes for Sale visit

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